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  • Students studying a human skeleton
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Forensic Anthropology and Bioarchaeology Lab

The Forensic Anthropology and Bioarchaeology Laboratory, directed by Jennifer Byrnes, is a recently established (2019) research space dedicated to the analysis of modern and historic human remains. Forensic anthropology as a field of study is the application of methods and theory in biological anthropology to questions related to the medicolegal significance of human remains (see NIST Anthropology Subcommittee and American Board of Forensic Anthropology).  Members of the lab assist in consult cases for the Clark County Office of the Coroner/Medical Examiner (CCOCME) under the supervision of the lab director. Assistance includes lab analyses and field recoveries. New research projects include the investigation of the reliability and validity of positive identifications generated from medical imaging, examining issues of public health and structural violence utilizing forensic anthropology case demographics, and paleopathology/trauma analyses from data collected on the Erie County Poorhouse Cemetery (1851-1913). Undergraduate and graduate students interested in participating in any of these research or service endeavors should contact Dr. Byrnes directly to discuss how they can participate as a lab member.

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Current Students Affiliated with the Lab

Taylor Flaherty

Taylor Flaherty's headshot

Third Year Ph.D. Student

Pronouns: She/They

Position: Laboratory Manager, Graduate Student Researcher

Taylor is a third year doctoral student with a primary focus in forensic anthropology. They have two Master of Science degrees from the University College London in Bioarchaeological and Forensic Anthropology and Musculoskeletal Science. While completing these degrees, their research focused on taphonomic processes affecting sharp force trauma and subchondral bone regeneration in injured knee joints, respectively. Taylor's Ph.D. research focuses on gender inclusivity in forensics. Ultimately, this research will analyze the structural violence, systemic marginalization, and post-death treatment of transgender and gender variant individuals in forensics. Taylor also plans to analyze the effects of hormone therapy on traditional skeletal sex indicators used in forensic anthropology, and to catalyze research that enhances post-mortem care of transgender and gender variant decedents. Additionally, Taylor is working on a project with the Clark County Office of the Coroner/Medical Examiner radiograph identification database and she is analyzing rib trauma in individuals interred at the Erie County Poorhouse.

Flaherty CV

Katherine Gaddis

Katherine Gaddis's headshot

Third Year Ph.D. Student

Pronouns: She/Her

Position: Graduate Student Researcher, Volunteer and Mentor

Katherine (Katie's) background is in bioarchaeology and she is primarily interested in how individuals and societies have experienced health and disease in the past. She is currently working as a field osteologist for two active medieval bioarchaeology research sites located in Poland, where her recent research has focused on taking an interdisciplinary approach to the analysis of skeletal biomarkers of stress in order to form a more comprehensive understanding of frailty in medieval Prussia. Currently, her PhD research involves exploring biocultural theories of ageing as they relate to health across the lifespan in order to better understand the lived experiences of elderly adults in both bioarchaeological and forensic contexts.

SaMoura Horsley

SaMoura Horsley

First Year M.A. Student 

Position: Graduate Student Researcher and Volunteer 

SaMoura has a background in Forensic Anthropology. Prior to attending UNLV, her research focused on dental morphology and diastema frequencies to help evaluate population frequencies. She also explored the combination of craniometric and odontometrics to estimate the parameters of the biological profile. In addition, she participated in research examining terminology used to describe human variation in forensic anthropology. For future research, SaMoura is interested in radiographs and topics surrounding the African diaspora.

Liam Johnson

Liam Johnson

Second Year Ph.D. Student

Pronouns: He/His

Position: Graduate Student Researcher and Volunteer 

Liam is a second year PhD student studying biological anthropology with a background in forensic anthropology and geospatial analysis. Prior to attending UNLV, Liam researched 3D computational age-at-death techniques on a modern Portuguese skeletal population. He has more recently conducted research on the spatiotemporal distribution of missing persons cases from Louisiana to aid investigative agencies and recommend spatially informed locations of where to strategically host community centered missing and unidentified persons events. Liam intends to further explore the intersections between unidentified and missing persons, public health, advocacy, geospatial technology, and community engagement.

Curriculum Vitae

Dayanira Lopez

Dayanira Lopez's headshot

Second Year Ph.D. Student

Pronouns: She/Her

Position: Graduate Student Researcher and Volunteer

Dayanira has a Master of Science degree in Forensic Studies with a concentration on Human Identity & Trauma analysis from Florida Gulf Coast University. Prior to beginning her studies as a doctoral student at UNLV, her training, education, and experience was centered around fragmentary human osteology and forensic anthropology. Her previous research includes the effects of hydrochloric acid on human remains while documenting the pattern of dissolution observed; best practices in curation of human skeletal remains; skeletal manifestations of developmental defects (Goldenhar – Gorlin Syndrome); and postmortem alligator scavenging on human remains. In the future, she hopes to focus on issues related to violations of human rights of marginalized groups in Central America.

Curriculum Vitae

Katharine Woollen

Katharine Woollen's headshot

Third Year Ph.D. Student

Pronouns: She/Her

Position: Graduate Student Researcher, Volunteer and Mentor

Katharine has a background in both biological and forensic anthropology. She has worked extensively with prehistoric human skeletal remains. Katharine has also conducted taphonomic research exploring the variations that occur to remains when subject to winter weather conditions. Currently, her Ph.D. project focuses on health disparities and violence directed toward women and children residing at county poor houses during the 19th and early 20th centuries. She intends to analyze the skeletal remains belonging to the Milwaukee County Poor Farm Cemetery (MCPFC), as well as data from the Erie County Poorhouse (ECPH). Her hope is that this research may provide a better understanding of how women and children’s bodies are regulated by social and societal organizations/institutions.

Curriculum Vitae

Cole White

image of cole white

Undergraduate Senior

Pronouns: He/Him

Position: Undergraduate RAMP Mentee

Cole White is a Cultural Anthropology major graduating in the spring of 2023. Before coming to UNLV, Cole studied Biology at Suffolk University in Boston. His main interests are in Applied Anthropology using his cultural background to solve real world problems. He is also interested in using human genetics to answer questions concerning both the past and the present.

James Sernas

Headshot of James Sernas

Senior Undergraduate Student

Pronouns: He/Him

James is an undergraduate student with an associates degree in Medical lab technology from CSN. He is currently an Anthropology major while also working on a minor in Biology. He has a major interest in Forensic Science and Genetics with goals to one day be able to Identify any human remains using genetics/genomics.

Thomas Monticello

person standing infront of door sign

Third Year Undergraduate Student 

Pronouns: He/Him 

Thomas is a third-year undergraduate with a focus in forensics and epidemiology. He is currently a double major pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and a Bachelor of Science in Public Health. Thomas is currently assisting in a project with the Clark County Office of the Coroner/Medical Examiner radiograph identification database to test the reliability and validity of radiographic comparisons for positive identification. After earning his undergraduate degrees, Thomas wants to continue his schooling.


Laboratory Alumni

Sydney Layne (Expected Graduation 2023)

Sydney Layne

Project: Disability and Impairment of the Hand: Trauma Analysis of the Erie County Poorhouse Cemetery

Silvio Ernesto Mirabal Torres, BA (2022)

Silvio Ernesto Mirabel Torres

Project Title: Blood on the Brain: A Preliminary Investigation of Endocranial Reactions in the Erie County Poorhouse Cemetery

Amanda Dolan, BA (2022)

Amanda Dolan

Project Title: Reliability and Validity of Radiographic Comparisons for Positive Identification


Adrianne Dizon, BS (2022)

Adrianne Dizon

RAMP Project: The Intersection of Systemic, Interpersonal, and Postmortem Violence: A Global Analysis of Transgender Decedents

Aerrow Cruz, BA (2022)


Assisted with Grant: Reliability and Validity of Radiographic Comparisons for Positive Identification.

Jordan Phillips, BA (2021)

Project: Preliminary Analysis of Periosteal Reaction of the Tibia in the Erie County Poorhouse Cemetery (1851-1913)

Roxayn Povidas, MA (2021)

Comparative Trauma Analysis between Erie County Poorhouse and Colorado State Insane Asylum

Ongoing Research Projects

Reliability and Validity of Radiographic Comparisons for Positive Identification

The FAB Lab (PI Byrnes) received a National Institute of Justice grant to investigate the reliability and validity of positive identifications generated from medical imaging, which includes a subaward with the Forensic Anthropology Center at Texas State (FACTS) (Co-PI Gocha). The award is over a two year period (2022-2023) and will fund multiple students within the UNLV FAB Lab and FACTS. The primary goals of this project are to 1) assess the validity of radiographic comparisons on anatomical locations typically found in antemortem radiographs (e.g., knee, shoulder); 2) assess the utility of quantifying positive identification based on anatomical locations typically found in antemortem radiographs; 3) develop standards and minimum number of concordant features for generating positive identification through anatomical areas typically found in antemortem records; and 4) assess the relationship between education and experience level in regards to reliability of making radiographic comparisons.

The Intersection of Public Health, Structural Violence, and Forensic Anthropology

This project is a compilation of multiple studies investigating the use of the Structural Vulnerability Profile (SVP) in forensic anthropology casework. Our studies focus on multiple demographics subject to structural vulnerability, including transgender and gender non-conforming people, the elderly, those with embodied stress and poor health, and racial groups subject to minoritization.

Paleopathology and Trauma Analyses from the Erie County Poorhouse Cemetery (1851-1913)

The Erie County Poorhouse (ECPH) cemetery was excavated in 2009 and again in 2012 at the University at Buffalo. The Buffalo Plains ECPH used the cemetery between the years 1851 and 1913, primarily for individuals who died at the institute and were not claimed by family/friends for burial elsewhere. Ongoing research from the archived skeletal analysis documentation includes projects with a focus on paleopathology and traumatic injuries. Students have used these data to present at the Paleopathology Association as well as the American Association of Biological Anthropologists annual conference.

Our Lab In the News

UNLV Media Coverage of Our Lab